The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 9: License and Licentiousness

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The Epistles of Paul - 1 Corinthians Part 9: License and Licentiousness

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7 Paul addressed certain issues relating to marriage, beginning his discourse with the words “now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me”. There it was evident that the Corinthians had written Paul for advice concerning marriage, ostensibly because the assembly at Corinth was undergoing the trial of persecutions, something which is passed over by many commentators but which is certainly evident in Paul's words found at verses 26 and 28 of that chapter. Here it is evident that as the topic changes from marriage to idolatry, Paul continues to address issues for which the Corinthians had enquired of him. Paul addresses this topic of idolatry, with several digressions for other things which he was compelled to discuss, through chapter 11 of this epistle. Then in chapter 12 he moves on to other things which the Corinthians had evidently asked him about in their letter to him. So for 4 chapters here, 8 through 11, Paul addresses certain aspects of proper Christian deportment in relation to the idolatry of Greco-Roman society, and in relation to Christian license and un-Christian licentiousness. Paul uses himself as an example., and also in turn makes an example of the assembly. While some of the circumstances have changed, we shall see that Paul's discussion is every bit as relevant today as it was in his own time.

8:1 Now concerning things offered to idols we know, (because all the knowledge we have, the knowledge inflates, but love builds. 2 If one supposes to have known anything [P46 wants “anything”], not yet does he know according as there is need to know.

From the word because, Paul begins a parenthetical remark which ends with verse 3. While we do not frequently note or even refer to the published Bible commentaries, Matthew Henry very succinctly and appropriately wrote on the first verse here that “There is no proof of ignorance more common than conceit of knowledge.” Paul is not saying, as he is sometimes misinterpreted, that he or his readers have all knowledge, but instead he is referring to the body of whatever knowledge each individual among them may possess. One must be careful not to allow the ego to become inflated by reason of what one knows, or by what one imagines himself to know.

It happens frequently, and it is quite easy, for one to judge one's brethren based upon whatever laws of Yahweh one learns and which one supposes not to have transgressed, or perhaps has transgressed and has since repented of. This is especially frequent in Christian Identity, where upon the realization that one's own Israelite ancestors were bound to those laws, one immediately begins promoting a need to keep the whole law and persuading others that they must also do so, not really understanding the relationship of Israel to the law under Christ. In that manner the knowledge we acquire causes us to become inflated. However, as we shall see here, a knowledge that with Christ Israel is freed from the judgment of the law, as Paul had explained in Romans chapter 7, one may also become inflated against his brethren in that same manner. As the apostle Peter warns in his first epistle (1 Peter 2:16), Christian liberty must not be used as a cloak for maliciousness. All Christians should seek to employ the laws of Yahweh their God as a model for their conduct, which Paul explained at length in Romans chapters 2 and 3. However becoming Pharisaical concerning the law, or becoming equally Pharisaical concerning the grace of God, one does not know according as there is need to know. Because no man can possibly know everything, all men should look upon their brethren with humility. Having humility, we can judge our brethren with mercy and that common love which all Christian Israelites should have for one another. However since true humility is a willingness to accede to the Word of God, we can also seek to conform ourselves to His Image and comply with His law. As James said in chapter 3 of his single epistle, “13 Who is wise and knowledgeable among you? He must show by good conduct his works in meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and rivalry in your hearts, do not exult and lie against the truth.” From John chapter 13: “34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

3 But if one loves Yahweh, this he knows by Him.)

This ends Paul's parenthetical remark concerning love and knowledge which began after the first clause of verse 1. The final clause of this passage [οὖτος ἔγνωσται ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ] is difficult to interpret, and easy to misunderstand. Properly, the verb is passive, and here it can mean either it is known or he is known. It would have been more proper to write “this is known by him”, and the pronoun “him” has been interpreted as referring either to God or to the man loving God. One translation renders the clause to say “but anyone who loves God is known by him”, and Joseph Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon would agree. However we reject that interpretation because Yahweh God Himself said to the children of Israel “you only I have known of all the families of the earth” (Amos 3:2) and Christ says to certain men who professed His Name “get away from Me, I never knew you”. It is therefore clear from Scripture, that not everyone who professes to love God is known, or recognized, by God. Thayer cited Galatians 4:9 in support of his interpretation, but the context of that passage relates to “those subject to law” who were being redeemed, referring to the dispersions of the children of Israel, in verse 6 of that same chapter.

Right or wrong, the clause is represented here as “this he knows by Him”, capitalizing the final pronoun and thereby indicating that it refers to God, as interpreting Paul's words to mean that a man's love for God is known to him by means of God Himself, for instance where Paul said in Romans chapter 8 that “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God”. We attempted to express the literal meaning of “this is known by him” while interpreting what is known to belong to the man, and not to God, and the final pronoun to be referring to God, and not to the man. This is because the preposition employed here by Paul is ὑπό, which can properly be interpreted to express the facility by which the thing is known. Thayer says of ὑπό that with the Genitive [as it is here] it is first “properly in a local sense, of the situation or position under something higher” and second “metaphorically of the efficient cause, as that under the power of which an event is conceived of as being”. Translations of this passage such those found in the King James Version neglect the meaning of the preposition ὑπό entirely, rendering it void. In hindsight, it would have been more accurate to write “this is known through Him”, with the final pronoun capitalized indicating that it refers to God.

The third century papyrus P46 and the Codex Sinaiticus (א) both want the phrase ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ, or “by Him”, and P46 also wants the word for God. Therefore following P46 the verse may be read “But if one loves, this is known”, and following the Codex Sinaiticus the verse may be read “But if one loves God, this is known.” Following these manuscripts, the entire argument concerning the meaning of this verse is moot. Alas, many are the challenges in Biblical translation and interpretation.

4 Concerning then the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the Society, and that there is none other God except one.

Evidently, because he was distracted by the long parenthetical remark, Paul purposely repeated the opening clause from the first verse of the discourse here in the opening clause of verse 4, while also elaborating upon it. This accords with the circumstance that this epistle was dictated to another who had done the actual writing, which is made evident at 1 Corinthians 16:21.

The third century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Claromontanus (D) all read literally “and that there is no one God except one” which we have read appropriately if not literally. The Majority Text actually has the word for “other” in its text.

The recorded words of Christ, from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12: “28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” The word for Lord in Mark 12:29 and 30 is κύριος (Strong's # 2962) on each occasion.

5 And even though there are so-called gods, either in heaven or on earth, just as there are many gods and many lords, 6 but to us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Prince [or Lord, κύριος], Yahshua Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.

The phrase “there are so-called gods” may have been rendered “there are those calling themselves gods”. However Paul used the formula again of the uncircumcised in Ephesians 2:11 where the Christogenea New Testament has “the so-called 'uncircumcised'”. This same form of the verb λέγω (Strong's # 3004) was used in this manner by Greek writers as early as the time of Xenophon, as Liddell & Scott note, as “they are said to be”, or “the so-called”. Paul is discussing idolatry, and not about those who are gods, but about those who are said to be gods, while in fact there is only one true God.

This allows us a digression. There are those who would assert that all of the sons of Adam are elohim, in Hebrew, or gods. In a way this is true, and even Christ when making a reference to the 82nd Psalm said, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, that “he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken” using the Greek word θεός, or god. As Christ also said, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 6, “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.” Yet that word perfect, as the King James Version has it, is a verb, and in its appropriate tense it should have been rendered as perfected, and more literally it may have been rendered as restored.

The same Psalm which addressed the children of Israel as gods goes on to say that “6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.” Likewise in his epistle to the Philippians, in chapter 2, Paul said of Yahshua Christ “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” All being made in the likeness of Adam should follow His example and do the same, humbling himself and making himself of no reputation, as the King James Version has it. Becoming obedient, the Israelite submits himself to the Word of Yahweh his God, and counts Yahweh as the only God. The words of Christ, from Luke chapter 9: “23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Humbling ourselves, we seek to conform ourselves to Christ. Exalting ourselves, we become as the enemies of God which Paul describes in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, those who imagined for themselves to be gods. Being Christians we make ourselves of no account, and when we are restored we hope to be as Christ our Master. As the apostle John said in his first epistle, “2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” If the apostle John, being so close to Christ, could not imagine what lay ahead for us then neither should we.

Paul said here of Yahweh God that from Him are all things, and of Christ that through Him are all things. However in order to understand the Scripture, man must learn to qualify what it means by “all things” within a Biblical context. For instance, in Genesis chapter 9 we see that Yahweh instructed Noah and said “3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” So if we imagine that all things means everything, then we must imagine that Noah was permitted to eat anything,! Yet Yahweh had already given to Noah instructions concerning the clean and the unclean, as we see in Genesis chapter 7 where it is written “2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.” If Noah knew to distinguish the clean from the unclean, then where it was said that he could eat all things we must interpret that to refer to all things which Yahweh had already ordained as being edible. We cannot imagine that Yahweh permitted Noah to eat things such as swine or earthworms or crustaceans if those things were deemed to be unclean. Yahweh did not do away with such distinctions after the flood, or He would not have given them to as commandments to the children of Israel. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 (although most translations miss the adversative particle) “17 Therefore if one is among the number of Christ a new creation, the old things pass away. “Behold! New things have come!” 18 But all things from Yahweh, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and is giving the service of reconciliation to us.” There are many things which are not from God, and that would include the idols which Paul discussed here. Sin is not from God, and therefore the apostle John says in his first epistle, in chapter 3: “8 He who is creating sin is from of the Devil, since the Devil sins from the beginning. For this the Son of God has been made manifest, in order that He would do away with the works of the Devil.”

To discuss one more aspect of verse 6, we shall repeat it again: “6 but to us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Prince [or Lord, κύριος], Yahshua Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him.” If Yahshua Christ is the one Lord, or as Paul used the Greek term, κύριος, and if that same word κύριος is used of God the Father, the God of the Old Testament scriptures, throughout practically every book of the Bible, then Yahshua Christ must be Yahweh Himself, or there are two Lords and not one. Rather, what Paul offers here is an example of a Hebrew parallelism, which is an idea repeated consecutively using different words or phrases but which describe the same entity. The Greek preposition διά (Strong's # 1223) can mean through, by, or metaphorically on account of, among other things. Yahshua being the physical manifestation of God the Father and “promised before the world began”, according to Paul in Titus chapter 1, then the physical world was made on His account, or as we may more literally render the term, “through Him”. The Revelation of Yahshua Christ fully corroborates the truth of this assessment where in chapter 4, the twenty-four elders are portrayed addressing the Lord (κύριος) God Almighty and they say “11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Christians should have no doubt that Christ is God, and that God is Christ.

However because idols are not from God, then Christians should not acknowledge them. In Exodus chapter 23 we read: “13 And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” Therefore idols are nothing in society, meaning that they are not to be reckoned nor esteemed by Christians. By fearing something sacrificed to an idol, one is actually respecting the idol which does not exist!

7 Yet not in all is that knowledge, but some in the custom of the idol [D and the MT have “but some with consciousness of the idol”; the text follows א, A and B] until this time are nevertheless eating of that offered to an idol, and their conscience being weak is defiled.

As we had discussed at length presenting Romans chapter 14, where Paul also wrote on this same topic, the pagan temples of the ancient world served as centers of entertainment and as restaurants, as well as centers of prostitution and banking. They had meat markets attached, from where meats sacrificed to their idols were offered for sale. If one lived in the city, without a source of meat from some estate out in the country, then if one were to desire meat to eat it would have to be purchased from one of these pagan temples. This created a dilemma for Christians. If a Christian esteemed the idol, he would have a guilty conscience eating the meat because of the commandment against idolatry. Buying the meat, or eating in such a temple, one is also in some degree supporting the temple, and therefore the idolatry itself.

8 But food does not bring us to terms with Yahweh; neither do we have an advantage if we would eat, nor do we come short if we would not eat.

The text of the Nestle-Aland, following the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Vaticanus (B), has here “neither do we come short if we would not eat, nor do we have an advantage if we would eat”; the Codex Alexandrinus (A) has “neither do we have an advantage if we would not eat, nor do we come short if we would eat”; the text follows the Codex Sinaiticus (א), and the Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text, which have minor variations.

The food we eat does not make or break our relationship with God. Of course, when Paul mentions food he is referring to what is customarily eaten under the law of God, and not to things which are not customarily eaten which are not even considered to be food. Unclean meats are those which the law forbids one to eat under any circumstances. However meats which are allowed by the law, but which were sacrificed to idols, were considered profane or defiled. Things which are unclean under the law can never be cleansed. However things which were clean and then defiled could indeed be sanctified once again.

9 But beware lest in any way by your license this would become an obstacle to those who are weak.

The Greek word ἐξουσία (Strong's # 1849) is power or authority to do something or to have license in a thing which gives one the authority to do it. The word appears frequently in Paul's epistles. In the Christogenea New Testament it is usually authority (Romans 9:21; 13:1, 2, 3; 1 Corinthians 7:37; 9:12 (bis), 18; 2 Corinthians 10:8; 13:10; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Colossians 1:13, 16; 2:10, 15; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; Titus 3:1 and Heb. 13:10), but here and at 1 Corinthians 9:4, 5, 6, and 15:24 it is license. At 1 Corinthians 11:10 it is a sign of control and at and Ephesians 2:2 it is office. In the Gospel, the same Greek word ἐξουσία is used where the high priests questioned the teaching of Christ they asked “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” (Matthew 21:23) This implied that Christ should have been given license to teach before He endeavored to do so.

Paul makes a similar argument to the one he made in this chapter, and his consistency is indubitable, in Romans chapter 14 where he wrote: “1 Now he who is weak in the faith you should not receive for the arguing of decisions. 2 While one trusts to eat all things, yet another being weak eats vegetables. 3 He who eats must not despise him that eats not; and he who eats not must not judge him that eats: indeed Yahweh has taken him to Himself. 4 Who are you to be judging another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he shall stand; indeed the Prince is able to establish him. 5 While one distinguishes a day contrary to another day, yet another distinguishes every day. Each in his own mind must be fully assured. 6 He who is observing the day, observes it with authority, and he who eats, eats with authority; for he gives thanks to Yahweh. And he who does not eat, with authority eats not, and he gives thanks to Yahweh.”

Paul goes on to admonish the Roman Christians, that they should not judge one another for these things. Then, just as he says that an idol is nothing here, he wrote in Romans that “14 I know and have confidence by Prince Yahshua, that nothing is of itself profane: except to he who considers anything to be profane, to him it is profane.” The substance of the meat in a market is not changed by its having been slaughtered in a pagan temple. A Christian who is steadfast and understanding in his faith may be persuaded that the idolatry of the world makes no difference to the meat, and simply being hungry needs to eat. Another may be worried about the idolatry and avoid it, being troubled at the thought of eating such food.

However even if Paul considered those who would not eat such meat to be weak in their faith, because Christians should esteem their brethren above themselves Paul takes a turn by saying “15 But if because of food your brother is distressed, no longer do you walk in accordance with charity. You must not with your food ruin that person for whose benefit Christ had died. 16 Therefore do not make him speak ill of your good; 17 indeed the Kingdom of Yahweh is not eating and drinking, but justice and peace and delight in the Holy Spirit.” Paul then concludes by saying “20 You must not destroy the work of Yahweh on account of food. Certainly all things are clean [meaning all things which are food], but are evil to the man who must eat in offense. [If you must eat in offense, you should not eat since your conscience is more important than your belly, and your brother should be esteemed even beyond either of those. Therefore if your brother is offended, you must abstain.] 21 It is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything in which your brother takes offense at, or is trapped by, or is sickened.” Here in 1 Corinthians, Paul is presenting the same argument once again, and therefore we also see that this issue must have been pressing throughout the early Christian assemblies.

10 For if perhaps one should see you [P46 and B want “you”, which would still be inferred; the text follows א, A, D, and the MT], who having knowledge are in an idol’s temple reclining at a meal, will not the conscience of him, being weak, be emboldened in regards to eating the things offered to idols?

The word οἰκοδομέω (Strong's # 3618) is properly to build a house and generally to build; here it is metaphorically to be emboldened, in the sense of being built up.

While license is the authority, permission, or privilege to do something, licentiousness is generally considered to be a disregard for a law or rule of conduct by doing things one should not really be doing. Here we see that what one Christian considers license, another Christian may very well consider licentiousness. A Christian encouraged to take such license in disregard of the written law may be tormented by a guilty conscience. Therefore here, as he also did in his epistle to the Romans, Paul admonishes Christians not to take such license if it would entrap or offend a brother in such a manner.

By the grace and mercy of Yahweh God, the children of Israel were spared the penalty of death under the law, and freed from the law when Yahweh died on their behalf, as Paul explained in Romans chapter 7. Being freed from the law and under the grace and mercy of God in Christ, Christians shall not be judged by the law for their sins. For such reason the apostle John says in his first epistle, in chapter 2: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). With this, some Christians may find license to do some things because they shall not be condemned for doing them, having grace and mercy in Christ. Paul explains this in relation to the rituals of the law in Romans chapter 3. There Paul also attests that “all have done wrong and fall short of the honor of Yahweh”, and explaining that Christ is a propitiation for sin, says “We therefore conclude by reasoning a man to be accepted by faith apart from rituals of the law.” However Paul also argues that for this very reason Christians should seek to keep the law and to please God, asking and answering rhetorically at Romans 3:31: “Do we then nullify the law by faith? Certainly not! Rather we establish the law.” When we presented Romans chapter 14 where Paul discussed the very same topic as he does here, we used Paul's examples in order to show where Christians may disagree, but also to show how Christians may settle those disagreements: by acceding to the law of God. Being willing to accede to the law Christians should be able to settle practically all of their disagreements amicably.

11 Then will he who is weak be ruined by your knowledge, the brother for whose sake Christ had been slain? [The Nestle-Aland text does not mark this verse as a question, but the King James Version does.]

As Paul had warned in Romans chapter 14, “You must not with your food ruin that person for whose benefit Christ had died.” If your license is seen as licentiousness it is better for you to have self-control, and to consent to the law of God for the sake of your brethren. From the epistle of James, chapter 2: “8 If, however, you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture: 'You shall love him near to you as yourself', you do well. 9 But if you respect the status of persons, you commit an error, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For he who should keep the whole law but would fail in one thing, has become liable for all. 11 For He having said 'you should not commit adultery' also said 'you should not commit murder', and if you do not commit adultery but you commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 Thusly you speak and thusly you do as if going to be judged by a law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy for him not effecting mercy. Mercy exults over judgment.” Therefore Christians should accede to the law of God out of mercy for their brethren as well.

From Psalm 119: “162 I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. 163 I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I love. 164 Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments. 165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. 166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. 167 My soul hath kept thy testimonies; and I love them exceedingly. 168 I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies: for all my ways are before thee.”

12 Now in that manner, failing in regard for the brethren, and striking their weak [P46 wants “weak”] consciences, towards Christ you fail. 13 On which account if meat offends my brother, I would not eat flesh for eternity, in order that my brother will not be offended.

The Codex Claromontanus has only brother, where we may write a brother, twice in the text where we see my brother. The Greek word βρῶμα (Strong's # 1033) is properly “that which is eaten, food” (Liddell & Scott), and therefore it is usually rendered as food in the Christogenea New Testament. However here in the context of the word for flesh later in the verse, which is κρέας (Strong's # 2907), we have taken the liberty of writing meat.

From Proverbs chapter 18: “19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” If we keep the Gospel of Christ, and offend a brother by that, then we have not done wrong, for Christ Himself said “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Luke 7:23). But the same Christ said “if you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). From the first epistle of John, from chapter 5: “1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” We may find license to disregard the law, but if our brother is offended we had better keep the law, rather than offend our brother. We know that we love our God and our brethren when we do so. If our license is seen as licentiousness, we would do better to exercise self-control.

Today we have the same ages-old dilemma that the assembly at Corinth suffered, only today the idolatry is much more sophisticated. It is more and more difficult to dine out without being encumbered with the sorts of idolatry seen at sports bars or other entertainment-based restaurants. It is difficult to even procure food without the involvement of a global corporation somewhere in the supply chain, such as a Monsanto or an Archer-Daniels Midland or one of those other companies being run by those who, as Paul says, have been abusing the world for their own benefit. Eating in these places, Christian license allows us to do so without judgment. However if one's brother is offended, do not compel him to eat in such places. Like the ancient pagan temples were filled with prostitutes, homosexuals, and other types of fornicators, today's eateries and entertainment meccas are filled with more of the same.

After a long discussion of marriage and virginity in what we now know as chapter 7 of this epistle, and then a discussion of idolatry and its relationship to the procurement of food in Greco-Roman society here in chapter 8, Paul begins chapter 9 with a discussion of Christian license in respect to himself. Using himself and others of the apostles as examples, however, Paul must also have been answering further questions which had been posed to him personally by the assembly, or at least on behalf of certain members of the assembly, since from the first verse of chapter 7 we see that Paul has been addressing issues which were brought to him in a letter, and here in verse 3 he supplies an answer to those who examine him.

9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an ambassador?

The Codex Claromontanus (D) and the Majority Text invert the words “free” and “ambassador”; the text follows the 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).

Paul is referring to his own Christian liberty in connection with his office as he is about to discuss the license which the Scripture grants him in the fulfillment of that office.

Have I not seen Yahshua our Prince? [Paul claims his authority directly from the risen Christ, and while the Scripture never mentions as much after the event, there must have been witnesses extant among those who were with Paul who attesting to it had affirmed Paul's assertions concerning the event. This is evident because the other apostles clearly accepted Paul's account.] Are you not my work in the Prince? 2 If to others I am not an ambassador, yet at any rate to you I am; indeed the assurance of my message is you in the Prince.

The word σφραγίς (Strong's # 651) is literally a seal, but also an assurance or a proof. The Greek word ἀποστολή is literally a sending off or away. The word was also used by the Greeks to describe the thing sent, or the office or function of the person sent, who was the ἀπόστολος or apostle. Here it is message, the Gospel being the thing sent. The word is also message in the Christogenea New Testament at Galatians 2:8, and at Psalm 78:49 in Brenton's Septuagint. The seal or proof of Paul's apostleship, as the word ἀποστολή may also be rendered, was evident in the fact that he himself founded this Christian assembly at Corinth, which is described in Acts chapter 18, and it continued as he wrote this epistle. This simple test as to whether such a commission is truly from God is found in the words of Gamaliel in Acts chapter 5: “38... for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”

3 My answer to those who examine me is this: 4 Do we not have license to eat and to drink? 5 Do we not have license to always have with us a kinswoman: a wife, as also the other ambassadors, and the brethren of the Prince, and Kephas? 6 Or do only Barnabas and I not have license to work?

That same word which we saw in chapter 8, ἐξουσία, is license three times in this passage from chapter 9. The reference to the “brethren of the Prince” must be a reference to the apostles James and Jude, who are mentioned among Luke's reckoning of the apostles in Luke chapter 6 as “James the son of Alphaeus” and “Judas the brother of James”. From Paul's statements here it is evident that both men were married. We know from the Gospel that the apostle Peter was married, from the account of his sick mother-in-law which is found in Matthew chapter 8.

The Greek word ἀδελφή is literally a sister. Here it is rendered as kinswoman so as not to be confused with a literal sister, or with an idea which is so wrongfully prevalent today, that anyone who happens to walk through the door of a “church” building may become an ἀδελφή or an ἀδελφός. The word ἀδελφός properly signifies a son of the same mother, and then more generally it was used to refer to a near kinsman (Liddell & Scott), which is the way that these words were understood throughout Greek history. Any special ecclesiastical definition must be rejected since these words were not used outside of a familial relationship to describe mere fellow-believers of anything in the first century. Liddell & Scott also cite examples of the use of ἀδελφή as a term of endearment in reference to a wife, while typically Greeks did not marry outside of their own tribe. Peter was certainly a fellow believer, but was distinguished from the “brethren of the Lord” by Paul here, being from a different tribe of Israel than Christ. Therefore, since Paul certainly did not use the term ἀδελφός here in the sense of fellow-believer, then neither was the term ἀδελφή used in that sense. Rather, Paul is saying that a proper wife is a near kinswoman. From Numbers 36:9: “Neither shall the inheritance remove from one tribe to another tribe; but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall keep himself to his own inheritance.”

Here Paul mentioned 3 things which he as an apostle had license to do: to eat and drink, to marry, and to work, or not to work. Paul did work, which is evident from Acts chapter 18 and from further on in this very chapter. That Paul had license to eat and drink may be a reference to some of his own eating habits while he traveled through Greece. Since he was often found in the markets and other places in the city preaching the Gospel, it is hard to imagine that he did not procure food from common places. Paul shall explain to us later in this chapter why he chose not to marry. However in reference to his working or whether he should be supported by the Christian assemblies themselves, he continues in verse 7 to state:

7 Who at any time serves as a soldier with his own provisions? Who plants a vineyard, and does not eat of its fruit? Or who shepherds a flock, and does not eat of the milk of the flock?

When a soldier fights a war, he is provided for by those for whom he is fighting. When a laborer plants a field, he does so with an expectation that he will eat of some of its fruit. Likewise, the Christian apostle could expect to be provided his sustenance from the Christian assembly. Paul chose to work anyway, as he will explain later in the chapter, that the message of the gospel not be hindered. This we may be able to understand in light of the difficulty of gaining the support of the people when you are preaching things which are not comfortable for them to hear. All Identity Christians should understand that truth is certainly not profitable. Yet in support of his statement Paul continues:

8 Do I speak these things according to man, or does the law not also say these things? 9 Indeed in the law of Moses [D wants “in the law of Moses”, P46 wants “Moses”] it is written, “You will not muzzle a treading ox.”

As the Gospel of Christ said in relation to the bringing of the Word to the people, from Luke 10:2: “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” So it is not inappropriate for Paul to compare the apostles to the oxen treading the fields. The law says in Deuteronomy chapter 25 that “4 Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Where he continues, Paul correctly asserts that the Wisdom of God is for the benefit of man, and not for the benefit of the oxen. We shall conclude with that thought, and continue with it here in our next segment of Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians.

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